It’s April, 2020. Spring Equinox has passed. I am in Southeastern Pennsylvania, where Spring has sprung early. On a leisurely walk with my friend yesterday I was rewarded with a magnificent feast for the senses: daffodils, forsythia and magnolia blossoms preening happily, showing off their beauty and strength. Though I live in New York City much of the year, Haverford, PA is my spiritual home base. Over the years I’ve often told friends, “There’s no place in the world more beautiful at Springtime than my hometown.” The azaleas, the dogwoods, the rhododendrons, are without competition in lushness and vibrancy. Of course, everyone has their own version of Springtime’s beauty, freshness, aliveness, and their own definition of what home means to them.
Right now the United States, as well as a great deal of the entire world, is “at home,” with daily activity at an almost complete halt due to the dangers of the coronavirus pandemic. Looking for the silver lining, people have a new opportunity to be with themselves and with their families in a new way. It’s a chance to re-connect, unplug, breathe, and also to care, caretake and be connected on a higher level of human engagement. The technologies that have kept us hyper-connected have also caused us to disconnect from each other to a great extent. Now, there is a blending of both the internet connection and the human connection while we stay attuned to the world from our homes.
What I currently see every day are the numerous articles and stories circulating through social media that celebrate the human spirit as we begin to rise out of the egoism of 21st century life to embrace our neighbors. Everywhere offers of “How can I help?” are in abundance, and people are also proactively helping others without even waiting to be asked. I see the wide-ranging generosity, the capacity of people to sustain others despite their own personal feelings of fear.
Nightly now, my New York City neighbors tell me, people in all the buildings come out at 7PM to bang pots and pans together to acknowledge the work, courage, and sacrifices of the doctors, nurses, and other health professionals or “first responders” on the front lines: EMS workers, firemen, grocery clerks and food delivery riders. My daughter’s family and her suburban neighbors have joined in this ritual. What a delightful cacophony!
I awoke this morning with an email I was sent: The “We Are the World” original recording from 1985—a reminder of how the world needs to pull together to help those in need. The project was created by U.S.A. for Africa to benefit famine relief. Listen and I promise you will feel moved!
What’s different today is that now the entire world is in need, not just a part of the world. Who can help us tiny humans now? Just two weeks ago we thought we were on top of the world. Mother Nature can deliver blows to us like this virus, or a devastating storm or an earthquake, but she can be extraordinarily giving. She models to us that seasons change, that time heals. Sometimes Mother gets angry and unleashes a reprimand or a discipline. We have all been those little kids suddenly shaking and thinking, “Uh Oh,” Mom’s really mad this time!”
When you partake of Nature’s great beauty, always keep in mind that it is a gift of love, of a generous heart that is so big, so forgiving and so selfless. Take wonder in the beauty of small things: the colors, the breeze, your child’s tender frame in your arms as she comes to you for a hug, the dog who has been sensing all week that something is different and is more clingy, staying close, the laughter as we all fumble through the learning curve on ZOOM. Know deeply that you are not alone—that others are there for comfort, help, support and love.
When I came back from my long and leisurely walk I made some dinner, grateful to have fresh lettuce for a salad. With my salad in my lap I knew I wanted to enjoy some music while I ate. I wondered what to select on my iTunes library. Then a suggestion came through my intuitive inner voice. “Play Beethoven’s 6th, of course!” This early Spring day was the perfect occasion for The Pastorale Symphony.
Remember that tenderness is always there, every day, not just in these extraordinary times, to sooth and inspire us. Beethoven’s symphonies have been around for more than 200 years, after all! And these days, whether you’re stuck inside a house or in a small city apartment, you can refresh yourself whenever you like with the first movement of the Pastorale, entitled “Awakening of cheerful feelings on arrival in the countryside.” Ludwig von Beethoven understood that Mother Nature is powerful and that she can and does shift the frequency from fear and despair to joy. The great composer does the same through his beautiful combinations of sound.
These extraordinary times are when heaven feels closest. The truth is that “heaven” is always here, but we are often too preoccupied to notice. Consider this: Beethoven was going deaf when he composed the Pastoral. His resonance to celestial sounds didn’t depend on hearing alone. Listen to this extraordinary music! You will feel tended by the divinely arranged notes. Even if there isn’t a springtime walk to take at this moment, Beethoven will take you in hand and put you in touch with your most tender feelings. Discover this for yourself: Here’s a link to Beethoven’s 6th Symphony, The Pastorale. Enjoy!
Faith, this is beautiful! Thank you for the precious reminder during this time of extraordinary change that tenderness and fellowship is alpha and omega and thank you for being an example in it.
And thank you Rachelle for your inspiring work as a hospital chaplain in NYC. I’m happy that the website provided you a bit of care and tending!